Paul is writing from Corinth. He is reminding us what real Christianity looks like. If the Gospel has taken root in your heart this is what it looks like. These are clear statements. I think I’m setting a record with this sermon having 12 points! Some of you might be wondering if you should have brought a lunch with you today! I’d like you to ask yourself which one of these you need to look at further in your life.
Be authentic. “9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
The word love here in verses 9 and 10 are different words for love. In verse 9 the word love that’s used is the kind of love God has for us. This word is unique to Christianity. Unconditional love, it describes God’s love for us. We can have this kind of love for other people in our hearts. The only way we can love others like God does is to take off the mask and be genuine. People went to performances and the actors wore masks. When the performance was over they took off the mask and let people see who they really were. Let your heart be genuine.
Love like family. “10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
We are to love each other like family. This word is, “phileo.” It comes from Philadelphia, brotherly affection. We are to have the same genuineness we have in our homes. People know us at home. There’s also a deep love there. It’s the love a father has for a child. It’s a love that can move past trouble, be forgiving and accepting. “Outdo one another” is telling us to be the ones who take the first step, and not just with our biological family but to the church. You’ll go through challenges and obstacles. Be family. Lead the way in showing respect and honor other people. Treat one another in a way that it makes a difference in our lives. Make the first move. If we all just wait around we come to a stalemate. Move towards others in love and then others will respond.
Live with purpose. “11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
This isn’t intended to be offensive to sloths. They are amazing beautiful creatures but they are not fast moving. Paul was passionate, driven and he is pushing people to take the next steps. Do not be slothful. An active heart does something. Find your passion and purpose and follow through. Be filled with the Spirit of God.
Don’t just be happy. Find joy. “12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
There’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is temporary. Joy lasts. Paul is calling the Romans to this. He knows they will endure difficult times. Their faith goes against what the Romans believe. Verse 12 here says to rejoice in the hope they have. If the Gospel is taking root in our life we know our hope in Christ. We have a joy that lasts and cannot be shaken. Hurricane Dorian is coming. It’s a temporary disruption in our lives. When it passes we will go back to normal. There are many temporary disruptions in our lives. Remember we have a deeper hope where we find joy.
One thing was well known about the Romans: they were a people who conquered other people. Paul tells them to give good for evil. Do good things to those who do evil. This is contrary to normal thinking. How do we do this? Bless and not curse. Speak well of other people. With those outside the church, evil will happen. It will be difficult when someone has done something to us. We don’t operate like the world. We are able to say good things about people even when it’s hard. We bless with words and this is a powerful instrument. Say good to others. Speak the image of God on every person. God calls us to persecute those who persecute us.
This is a call to empathy. Sometimes we feel alone. Even people who are surrounded by other people can feel alone and feel like nobody understands. Do life with others. When people win, celebrate! When they mourn, mourn. Feel what others feel. We all want someone we can do life with. Remember to be present with others. This is why Cubs fans stick together! There are many reasons we can bond together with other people.
Stop being a snob. “16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight.”
This is straightforward. Most societies have a hierarchy. The Gospel cuts through all of that. Our identity in Christ is greater than our societal status. In a church you have all different levels, but in church we are all one in Christ. In Luke 1:52 says,
“he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”
Mary is giving a psalm of praise here. Who are the first people that witnessed the birth of Jesus? Shepherds! We need to come to a place where we see people as God does.
Live with honor. “17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”
Don’t give payback. Do not return evil for evil. Persecution will come. We do not live in a society of persecution. We have a tendency to seek revenge. Give thought and do what is honorable. Honorable means beautiful. How can I do what is beautiful in light of everyone else? In circumstances God calls us to seek peace.
Let God be God. “19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Some things you will never see justice for in this lifetime. It’s never going to be right. If you allow it to take root in your life it will destroy your peace. God will make all things right. Our sense of justice pales in comparison to God’s. Give it to God and let God be God.
Demonstrate the power of the gospel. “21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We overcome evil with good and the Good News. The methodology here is the same Gospel that transforms you will transform others. This is how you change your family, city and world. This is how the Gospel spreads and the world is transformed. We are called to take the Gospel to the world. Let God be God and demonstrate the power of the Gospel. Please choose one of these topics to work on. I pray God will transform you and God will give you a strong sense of God wants you to do. God has given us the power of the Gospel. Lord, make us into the kind of church and people that makes Asheboro a better place. God, put your name on us.
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.